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Balancing the Bump – Flexible working requests PtII
Annabel: All the statistics show that working women with young children want shorter hours (part time working), but the right to request flexible working has a wider range of options in mind. One of the things a parent can request is home working (either in conjunction with part time working or on a full time basis).
Laura: There are a lot of informal home working arrangements in place for all sorts of workers. How an organisation responds to a request for home working depends in great part on the role the woman has, the facilities for home working (if IT is set up for it for example), and the organisation’s historic experience of home working. Managers can feel that people who are working at home are not under their supervision, and this can make them reluctant to agree
Annabel: It is really important to be clear about whether your request is:
a) To work your normal hours of work at home
b) To work reduced hours of work at home
c) To work flexible hours at home (normal or reduced)
I see a lot of problems when a woman makes a flexible working request for home working and then is not available during normal working hours. She thinks she is working flexible hours, while her boss thinks she is working her normal hours from home.
Laura: It is important to have proper childcare arrangements alongside home working. There aren’t many jobs you can do well with a baby on one knee, never mind a toddler. Home working can save the commute time (and reduce childcare costs), but if you are working your normal hours from home, you need childcare arrangements. If you want to work the same number of hours but at unpredictable times (flexibly when baby is in bed), you need to make sure you have requested that in your flexible working request, and have a plan to handle it that your boss has signed off on.
Annabel: If your organisation has established policies on working at home, they will know how to deal with health and safety and handling confidential data (if you do), but if you are the first person to work from home in your organisation, there is a fair amount of work to be done to get this going, and you should make your request early so people can find out what needs to be done.
Laura: Be realistic. If you live with lots of other people and don’t have any space to work in or keep work stuff in, it is going to be hard to work from home and be efficient. What works for the odd day writing reports may not work as a longer term plan with a new baby in the house. If you are working flexi hours too, will you be able to concentrate if someone else is watching TV, playing computer games?
Annabel: Sometimes a transfer to a more convenient office is a better bet than regular home working, or a mix of home and office working that allows you to see your colleagues face to face. It can feel very isolating working exclusively at home – particularly if you are working when your baby is asleep. Some people work at local coffee shops, or use Skype.
Do you have a query that you’d like Laura or Annabel to answer? Follow this link and post your question for them – http://balancingthebump.com/contact/
Posted by on 29/07/2011 10:20:03
Jackie Groundsell is known as the queen of women's business networking lunches - the connector. She supports thousands of small business owners through her events and lunch-time meetings